Taskforce established to administer $250m arts support package following criticism over delays

By Shannon Jenkins

August 24, 2020


The government has established a Creative Economy Taskforce to help implement the $250 million support package for the arts sector.

The appointments have come two months after the package was announced.

Arts minister Paul Fletcher on Saturday said the taskforce would also provide strategic guidance on practical issues including managing physical distancing and travel, articulating the economic and job creation contribution of the creative economy, and the role of the creative economy in Australia’s COVID-19 recovery.

Museum of Contemporary Art director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor has been appointed chair of the taskforce, with former chair of the Perth International Arts Festival John Barrington named deputy chair.

A number of taskforce members have been appointed to work alongside the government and the Australia Council, including:

  • Greta Bradman, operatic and concert artist and ABC Classic presenter,
  • Adrian Collette, Australia Council for the Arts chief executive officer,
  • Li Cunxin, Queensland Ballet’s artistic director and former principal artist with the Australian Ballet,
  • Rachel Healy, joint artistic director of the Adelaide Festival,
  • Ian Kew, chair of the Darwin Festival and the Darwin Major Business Group,
  • Fiona Menzies, CEO Creative Partnerships Australia,
  • Alison Page, entrepreneur, artist, and film and television producer,
  • Paul Piticco, co-CEO Secret Sounds Group, promoter of Splendour in the Grass music festival,
  • Dan Rosen, CEO of the Australian Recording Industry Association,
  • Chris Saines, director of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art.

Fletcher said the group would use their expertise in arts and business to inform the government’s recovery efforts sector-wide, “supporting the return of Australia’s vibrant, much loved arts scene following the impacts of COVID-19”.

Read more: Labor: government’s $250m support package for arts sector great for businesses, but workers miss out

He said government support has been “flowing to the sector for months” with around $100 million per month through JobKeeper and cash flow support, $27 million in targeted support announced in April, and “annual investment of around $750 million in the creative and cultural sector”.

Earlier this month, shadow arts minister Tony Burke criticised the government for not having administered any of the $250 million support package.

“This is a sector that was almost completely shut down by government decisions in March. But for three months they insisted the sector — which employs hundreds of thousands of people — was getting enough support and didn’t need a rescue package,” he wrote on Twitter.

“But more than six weeks later, nothing has happened. Not a dollar has been spent. No guidelines for the grants and loans have been released. No one knows whether they will even be eligible to apply.

“Once the guidelines are approved it could take another 12 weeks until any grants or loans are approved. That means November … That is eight months after this crisis began and this entire sector was almost completely shut down.”

Four days after Burke’s tweets, the government released the guidelines for the RISE Fund and the Sustainability Fund. Applications for the loans open on August 31, and close at the end of May 2021.

Applications for the Temporary Interruption Fund — administered by Screen Australia — have also opened.

Burke recently accused Scott Morrison of using a production company as a “prop” after Morrison visited the company’s studio in July to publicise the arts support package, but the company later discovered that it was ineligible for any grants.

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